At the end of our second conversation, Gaya was finishing her book, leaving KPMG, and soon starting at Schneider Electric. The book just came out, Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse: What a 50-Year-Old Model of the World Taught Me About a Way Forward for Us Today (a free download), and she's worked at Schneider a while. We talk about the book, how the world has tracked two of the Limits to Growth simulations, and how working at Schneider is. The book treats how to respond to a complex, systemic problem, which is different from how to respond to a simple, linear problem. I consider the advice right on, rare to find, even among environmentalists. To change a system, some of the best levers are its goals and values. Don't change them and you retain the system you're trying to change, which most people are doing. Gaya's views are a breath of fresh air that give direction for people who want to lead to act.
Gaya gets systems, how to change them, and not fall prey to rationalizations that sound tempting but are self-serving excuses like "individual actions don't matter" or "only governments and corporations can act on the scale we need." I loved this conversation for her knowledge and experience in what will reverse humanity's pattern of lowering Earth's ability to sustain life. She shares and elaborates on major points like that technology is just a tool that serves our goals and values. While we value growth over sustainability, technology will accelerate our pattern of lowering Earth's ability to sustain life, not decrease it. We share our frustration with technology fans who misunderstand how technology affects our systems, thinking making it more efficient will lead to less pollution despite centuries of increased efficiency increasing pollution. She shares about the value of individual actions to change culture and oneself, including her picking up litter with her family. She shares how sustainability creates joy since we are social. She hints at her upcoming book, which is available now.
Five months ago, Gaya's work led to headlines like Yep, itâ€™s bleak, says expert who tested 1970s end-of-the-world prediction. The 1970s predictions weren't exactly predictions, but the headline refers to the book Limits to Growth. If you're not familiar with it, we start by talking about it. We both consider its views and analysis among the most important. The book simulated possible outcomes for humans on Earth. Those outcomes varied from lots of happy people to billions dying. The authors' goals were to show what patterns we might expect. Still, people since have wondered if we and Earth have tracked any of those outcomes. Gaya's work does just that and shows that we have a slim chance of avoiding collapse, but a good chance of hitting it. I am amazed at how well those models track so many measurable outcomes in disparate areas. Our conversation covers her research, what it means, how to understand it, her work with companies, systems, solutions, and how these things affect our personal lives.Â Limits to Growth, Gaya's work, and what to do about them are among the most important things we can understand.